We’re all star-crossed.

A Juliet ready to shout it out loud and a quietly intense Romeo are the Stratford Festival’s 2017 take on Verona’s star-crossed lovers.

Sara Farb and Antoine Yared are both terrific in Romeo and Juliet. Farb makes memorable her transformation from impatient and loud (as required… she does have a lot of silly Capulet adults around her) love newbie to sorrowful adult.

Romeo & Juliet, Stratford Festival 2017
Antoine Yared as Romeo and Sara Farb as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Yared is almost as immature at the start. But then he is transformed by true love into a passionate poetic romantic hero.

In waltzes passion…

As the pair’s words blaze with passion (lightning, the sun, meteors), Farb and Yared keep the Bard sizzling. But they also maintain the cool passion symbolized by the stately dance where they first meet and touch.

Meanwhile, the Nurse (amazing as always Seana McKenna) and Friar Laurence (Wayne Best) get big laughs before tragedy takes over. The friar’s “Holy Saint Francis” proves comedy gold.

Romeo & Juliet, Stratford Festival 2017
From left: Marion Adler as Lady Capulet, Sara Farb as Juliet and Seana McKenna as Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Still, this Verona is also a city in mourning. It’s a place of violent death. Widows in black who traverse the stage throughout the production remind us of the losses.

The Capulet vs Montague feud first kills off Romeo’s fiery friend Mercutio (Evan Buliung is great) and Romeo kills Tybalt and then Paris with scary speed. The lovers die by suicide as the feud’s final casualties, before the Prince (Juan Chioran) finally imposes peace.

Maybe the bloodshed makes (even) new love a little crazy.

Quoth Juliet with Farb intense and earnest:

“When I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine. That all the world will be in love with night. And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

Pretty heavy stuff from a 13-year-old girl.

Romeo & Juliet, Stratford Festival 2017
Antoine Yared as Romeo and Sara Farb as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

You’ll want to see R&J because: Really, who doesn’t love these tragic young lovers? And who can’t love Shakespeare when you can hear all the lovely words (the actors have perfect diction)? 

You might want to miss R&J if: Your star-crossed lovers need to show some skin and the 1968 Zeffirelli film (with its serene nudity) is the only one for you. Same deal if you prefer the raunchier Luhrmann flick from 1996 with its skin scenery. This Juliet and her Romeo are fully (as in really long flowing outfits for her and a zippy jacket and pants for him) clothed at all times. No bedroom or wedding night scene either. Director Scott Wentworth is actually faithful to the text in that “omission.” The lovers’ parting is playful… rather than sexy… with Juliet looping herself in the rope Romeo has used to reach her bedroom.

Members of the company in Romeo and Juliet. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Inevitable #ldnont connections: Percussionist and Oakridge grad Dale Anne Brendon and London hornist Timothy Lockwood are in the ensemble which recorded the R&J music.

Romeo And Juliet opened Thursday, June 1 at the Festival Theatre and continues until Oct. 21. See the Stratford Festival site for more details and click here for tickets!

James Stewart Reaney keeps James’s Brander Newer Blogger at LondonFuse.ca as part of his volunteerism and reverence for London A&E. He recently retired from The London Free Press after more than 30 years covering everything from A — The Alcohollys — to B: baseball’s 1986 World Series. Follow his Twitter #ldnont thoughts via @JamesSReaney

Feature photo by Lynda Churilla.


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